Let’s go to Ed Burgart for the call:
“And away they go in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
And Cartel Jess Rockin came out running strongly and Cattail Cove is also right there. Now Nomadic is trying to rally on and from down along the inside is Flokie.
But Cattail Cove is going to trying to pull an upset. Nomadic… but here's Cartel Jess Rockin running huge! Cartel Jess Rockin with Ron Hartley and Juan Pablo Leon, take the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
The final call there with Cattail Cover in a photo with Flokie and Nomadic and also Kiss Thru Fire, but a big win for Cartel Jess Rockin. John Cooper congratulations and ladies and gentleman, thank you for all these years.”
That was Ed Burgart’s final call on his final night as track announcer at Los Alamitos prior to retiring and it was his good friends, trainer John Cooper and owner Ron Hartley, who came out on top in the $1,903,275 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Sunday night. In the winner’s circle after the race, Hartley was telling those nearby that Cartel Jess Rockin was no Moonist, referring to his AQHA champion runner from 2015 and 2016.
Hartley is definitely right in saying that Cartel Jess Rockin is no Moonist. After all, Moonist never won a futurity like Cartel Jess Rockin did, and certainly never won a purse similar to the $1.9 million offered in the 400-yard race. And while Moonist would go on and have a fine year as a 3-year-old, Cartel Jess Rockin is already as big an earner as Moonist atter winning $781,736 for winning as the third longest shot on the board at 20-1 odds on Sunday night. The Favorite Cartel filly covered the distance in :19.628.
The significance of Burgart’s final call certainly didn’t escape Cooper.
“I love him to death,” he said. “I hope I get the tape of him calling this race. He’s a special guy to me. We’ve spent a lot of time together. Every New Year’s for about five years. I hope everything works for him. That’s what he wants.
I did think she could win and I told Ronnie that after she run that first trial and got a little tired at the end. I knew she’d come back better if she stand there and break and not be fussing. I think Moonist when we lost him that was going to be his biggest year (2016). I just hope she runs this kind of race every trip. She doesn’t have to win them all. She’s a nice horse. She’ll give (Ronnie) another five years (in racing). I just know it.”
Hartley purchased the filly by Favorite Cartel and out of the Feature Jess Rockin for $18,000 as an embryo inside of a recipient mare.
“I saw that her mother had won a bunch of races, earned almost $300,000 and she had run in the Champion of Champions. I’ve learned from Ed Allred about the importance of the bottom line of mares. That’s where you go. I liked her breeding and had Steve Burns buy her for me for $18,000. It’s not a bad deal, right?”
Cartel Jess Rockin, who has now won three of nine starts for $840,640, previously qualified to the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity and Governor’s Cup Futurity, where she ran fourth in both final. For the Two Million trials, Cooper and Hartley turned to 20-year-old pilot Juan Pablo “Cowboy” Leon,
“I had never been on this horse until the trials,” said the native of Sonora, Mexico. “The biggest thing I learned about her was that she didn’t like the riding crop. She responded better to just being encouraged to run by using my hands. She broke pretty well tonight. I started encouraging, but it wasn’t until I started talking to her that she really kicked it into high gear.”
“I just feel so happy and it’s a feeling that’s coming from deep inside me,” he said. “I’m just blessed to have been in this position.”
Not surprisingly, it was a huge night for Favorite Cartel, as the superstar stallion sired the top four finishers in the Two Million. In addition to winner Cartel Jess Rockin, he also sired runner-up Cattail Cove, third place finisher Flokie, and fourth place finisher Nomadic.
Link Newcomb’s Cattail Cove broke on top and stayed in the top two spots the entire way. Cartel Jess Rockin kicked it into high gear in the second half of the race, while Cattail Cove fended off the rest to finish second. Ridden by Carlos Huerta for trainer Juan Aleman, Cattail Cove earned $316,417.
J. Francisco Diaz and Jose Flores’ Flokie earned $223,353 for finishing third with Jairo Rangel aboard. Ed Allred’s Nomadic ran fourth for trainer Scott Willoughby and jockey Vinnie Bednar. Nomadic, the betting public’s favorite in this race, earned $130,289 for running fourth. Kiss Thru Fire, Mr Ricks, Runforyourfile, Sacred Nation, Up And Coming and Up And Atem completed the field.
Hartley, Cooper and Leon also joined forces with Chickititas Favorite to win the $30,000 Los Alamitos Invitational Juvenile Stakes in the sixth race. The two stakes wins were the first ever at Los Alamitos for Leon. Chickititas Favorite earned $13,800 and covered the distance in :19.76.